Microsoft Ignite Virtual 2020: Microsoft Search – The Questions

Every day, every session at the 2020 Microsoft Ignite Virtual conference has been like opening a gift bag of surprises. There is one surprise after another, and they just keep coming! These are all super pleasant surprises – enough to get any user, admin, or corporation excited to start implementing and using them. Microsoft Search is one these – who ever thought a search engine could get this exciting?!?

The best way to describe how search historically works is by comparing it to a human model in real life. Think about losing a physical item, like your debit card. What is the first thing you do when you realize you have lost it? Well, we deny we lost it and like to believe we misplaced it. With that, one begins to think backwards, starting with when was the last time you used it to purchase an item. Then, the last location when you remember having used it. You continue to progressively narrow your search down to a position that is detailed and small, and finally, to an exact location, such as the basket located on the top of your dresser. This works if you are the one that misplaced your card but what if someone else misplaced theirs? Or the card you are looking for belongs to someone else? This process is no longer this simple and the process will change in response to the change in parameters. Because the process is not necessarily the same for each event to perform a search, it is not consistent, and the final outcome is an inconsistency with the results. Historically, search operates similarly – a serious of queries with continuous refining until you find what you are looking for.   

Microsoft 365’s Search is responding to the needs of users as it evolves to become more intelligent. Not only is it becoming more personal, but it will provide precision with minimal effort as context awareness will provide personalized, trending, and important results with each first search you perform.

What are the New Search Features?

As we all know, traditional search engines, like the analogy above, work from the peripheral towards the centre to find the information. Another great analogy is how to put a jigsaw puzzle together. Most people solve a puzzle by working on the edges first because completing the frame of the puzzle is the easiest. Once the frame is completed, it becomes the anchor for the remainder of the puzzle work, which proceeds to work from the edges towards the centre.

Microsoft, especially seen in Teams and SharePoint, is the opposite. Information is provided by the user, and this information radiates outwards to the Team and other users involved in the collaboration. This process brings us to the first new feature, People-Centric Search. Furthering collaboration and utilizing collective knowledge, People-Centric Search provides the ability to scope and refine your search to an individual because knowledge is not always in the written word, but more often it is an individual who has that knowledge.

Many more new features of Microsoft Search include:

Find Skills and Expertise: bringing together a team involves finding individuals with specific skill sets. With Find Skills and Expertise, you can now find individuals with expertise and skills that you are looking for within your organization that are based on machine learning algorithms which are identified from self-attestation, content understanding, collaborative patterns gleaned from email and documents, and the addition of skills in the user profile.

Power BI Search: according to business intelligence and analytics, Power BI is the Magic Quadrant Leader. By integrating Power BI Search, reports and dashboards are now searchable in SharePoint, Office.com, and Bing.

Conversation Search: a new Conversations vertical will allow a search across apps and services such as Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, Yammer, and Office.com for conversations.

Image Search: images can now be searched across SharePoint and Office.com.

Improved Filter Design and New Filters: easily find files, pages, presentations, or other information with precision by utilizing the out of the box filters.

Topic Search: Topic Search falls under the umbrella of Project Cortex and will be available later in the calendar year. AI will be used to curate, build, and organize knowledge topics across Teams and systems, automatically organizing related resources to create topic pages. Topics can be either manually created or they can be automatically mined from content curated by users. Topics will have a definition, name description, and will be connected to content (file and sites), people, and conversations, bringing together people, information, and content.

Personal Query History: have you ever performed a search, then jumped to another search, and then later that day, you wanted to go back to what you found in the first search at the beginning of the day? We actively use search throughout the day, and to go back to that first search of the day, we either have to enter the exact words or we have had to memorize the exact sequence of words to duplicate the search. With Personal Query History, that is no longer the case because your recent searches will appear as you type in the search box, assisting you to see recently used information. This setting is managed through Office 365>My Account Settings, and the ability to delete or download for future reference Personal Query History can be found under My Account Privacy Controls.

These new features are exciting as they will, undoubtedly, make searching for information and content that much easier, accurate, and relevant. Microsoft Search features are not only impacting the front end of a search, they are also impacting the back end of a search – the answers! More explanations in my next article, Microsoft Search: The Answers.

  • Wednesday, September 30, 2020 By : Mike Maadarani   

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